Year

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of the Arts, English and Media

Abstract

During colonial times, local cultural expression wrestled with the global as represented by the systems of empire. The ideal subject or literary work was one that could happily inhabit both ends of the center-periphery in a kind of cosmopolitan space determined by imperial metropolitan and local elite cultures. As colonies liberated themselves, new national formations had to negotiate a mix of local identity, residual colonial traits and new forces of global power. New and more complex cosmopolitan identities had to be discovered and writers and texts reflecting these became correspondingly more problematic to assess, as old centralisms gave way to new networks of cultural control. On a general note, it can be argued that the novels written in the context of the postcolonial cultural politics after the successful attainment of national independence question how a nation is to be made while recognizing its relation to globalization. The strong waves of globalization enforce sociological, political and economic values in developing countries that may not be readily acceptable in those societies.

In this thesis, I want to argue that select novels by Indian writers in English largely present a kind of micro cosmopolitanism which preserves nation as a primary site for social and cultural formation while opening it up to critique. Despite the varied but broadly elite cosmopolitan positions of the writers, they all depict characters working towards a cosmopolitanism from the grassroots, rather than a top-down practice. Furthermore, globalization and its effect (cultural, economic or otherwise) are viewed with varying degrees of suspicion that can prevent possibilities of more fluid forms of belonging and border-crossing.

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